Good Morning, AFC North!

Good Morning, AFC North!
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Stars Aligning For Giovani Bernard To Explode In 2014

Rumors are currently swirling around the Bengals’ camp that say Cincinnati’s new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is penciling Bernard in for over 300 carries next season. Jackson’s past [offenses boast many] running back’s success; Bernard has a chance to really give the Bengals an extra boost in 2014.

That would be a huge bump in rushes for the Bengals’ second-year runner. In 2013, Bernard was unable to crack the 700 rush yards mark on a mere 170 carries. To compare, both Eddie Lacy and Le’Veon Bell managed to finish their rookie seasons with over 240 [total] each despite missing at least two games apiece.

In his rookie season, Bernard rushed for 4.1 yards per carry on his limited 170 opportunities. Additionally, he caught 56 passes for nearly 10 yards per reception. He’s a dynamic back who can contribute in many ways, so Jackson would be wise to use Bernard frequently. AFC North defenses are going to have to game plan around this very talented back.





No Huddle Links

Another day, another big Mack for the Browns. One day after putting the transition tag on center Alex Mack, the Browns were inside the Buffalo Bills fieldhouse on March 4 for a close look at University of Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack during the Bulls’ Pro Day.

The Cleveland Browns aren’t exactly the most fashion-forward team in the NFL. For most of their history, they’ve worn brown uniforms with orange and white stripes on the sleeves. [They’ll be introducing new “cutting edge” uniforms in 2015].

Ward’s agent releases statement regarding contract situation

Ward’s agent released a canned statement, essentially saying negotiations have been ongoing with the Browns, but unproductive to this point. He’ll continue to work with the team, but, if it doesn’t work out, Ward will pursue free agency options. With the release of D’Qwell Jackson, ILB is still a need for the Browns. With over $50 million in cap space, the Browns should solidify their secondary before the draft so they can draft more freely.





With $24.929 million in cap space, Ravens try to sign Monroe

There was no advancement in talks Tuesday after the Ravens opted to not designate Monroe as their franchise player on Monday, which would have cost them $11.654 million in salary and cap space for the 2014 league year. Talks are scheduled to continue.

Since the financial divide between the Ravens and Monroe has gradually become smaller since meeting at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis in February, sources emphasized that there remains a chance that the two sides could still reach a compromise before free agency.

If Monroe gets to free agency, it may be difficult to keep him as several teams need offensive tackles, including the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and the Oakland Raiders.

With the tenth most cap space available among teams, the Ravens certainly can and need to sign Monroe. The issue is navigating around large contracts already in place for coming seasons. Ngata, Rice, Flacco and Webb all have large cap numbers over the next couple seasons, and young players like Torrey Smith will be needing new deals soon, too.





Jason Worilds gets tagged: Everything you need to know

Steelers free agent linebacker Jason Worilds became the first Steelers player since Max Starks to get the transition tag, and nearly as quickly as he received it, he accepted it, meaning he can’t negotiate with another team. Follow the timeline for this somewhat unexpected move from start to the inevitable finish.

The timeline helps clear up any unclear issues surrounding the seldom used transition tag. It looks to be a shrewd move by the Steelers, allowing them to buy at least some time to keep Worilds around, and possibly split Lamar Woodley’s bloated dead money penalty over two years (post June 1st cut). Of course, this presumes that Worilds is the marquis player the Steelers believe he is.



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